Existing homes sales decline during May

According to recent data released by the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales, affected by several factors, declined during May.

Overall, sales of single-family properties, townhomes and condominiums fell by 3.8 percent during the month, settling at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.81 million. The rate was lower than April's 5.00 million. Compared to May 2010, sales were down 15.3 percent from last year's 5.68 million, however, transactions were boosted then by the government's first-time home buyer's tax credit.

Experts have blamed the lowered housing activity on several factors.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, explained that "spiking gasoline prices along with widespread severe weather hurt house shopping in April, leading to soft figures for actual closings in May."

Regarding mortgages, the national commitment rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was 4.64 percent, which was down from 4.84 percent in April. Yun explained that low mortgage interest rates were welcome; however, the tighter regulations on loans have made this trend meaningless.

To obtain mortgages with lower rates, consumers should work to have a healthy credit score. One way individuals can ensure their credit scores accurately reflect their positive payment behavior is to check their credit reports for mistakes or unsubstantiated items. Because this process can be tricky for the average consumer, he or she may want to contact a credit lawyer for assistance.